Senator Aliyu Abdullahi, Nigerian Minister of State for Agriculture and Food Security, has stated that the country’s food security is being jeopardized by a variety of threats, including insecurity, flooding, zoonotic diseases, drought, among others. This information was provided in a Communique signed by the Chairman Communique Drafting Committee, Dr. Sati Ngulukun, issued at the close of the 59th Annual Congress of the Nigerian Veterinary Medical Association (NVMA) held in Lagos State. It was stated that the Minister of State who presided over the event called for cooperation between various actors in the livestock sub-sector to address the country’s food security issues in line with President Bola Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda.
Abdullahi cited climate change, rising incidences of transboundary animal diseases, new and resurgent zoonotic diseases, natural disasters, insecurity, and ongoing farmer-herder conflicts in sub-Saharan Africa as major challenges. The Chief Host, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Governor of Lagos state, was represented by the Commissioner for Agriculture, Ruth Olusanya. In her address, she called on the veterinary profession to collaborate with the Lagos state Government, considering the state’s position as the highest consumer of livestock in Nigeria.
Members urged to be on the frontier of protecting public health.
As per the Communique, he also suggested the group leverage social media to spread awareness of their initiatives. The keynote speaker, Prince S. J. Samuel, Chairman of Origin Tech Group, urged veterinarians to adapt to the realities of the modern day, including climate change and technological advancement, and he also challenged them to work in concert with advocates for human health and environmental protection to improve the public’s wellbeing. Dr. Ken Opara, President/Chairman of the Council of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), the theme speaker, highlighted the importance of Veterinarians in ensuring the health and well-being of animals.
To achieve this, he proposed sharing data for economic development, telemedicine for veterinarians, and the application of AI to the diagnosis and treatment of animal ailments. In the Communique, Dr. Opara argued for increased support for veterinary labs so that zoonotic diseases can be discovered quickly to safeguard the public. President of the NVMA, Dr. Olutoyin Adetuberu, urged the organisation’s members to be on the frontier of protecting the public’s health, guaranteeing the safety of the food supply, and sustaining the bond between humans and animals.
Government tasked to create an enabling environment.
Dr. Olutoyin encourages veterinarians to take advantage of emerging opportunities in order to address the growing challenges. The Communique’s resolution expressed appreciation for the Federal Government’s efforts in constructing three Veterinary Medical Centers in FCT, Gombe, and Kano, as well as construction of primary animal health centers in 34 states of the federation. In addition, the Congress urged the Federal Government to broaden the construction of Veterinary Medical Centers to other geopolitical regions in the country..
They further called on the federal government to swiftly institute houseman-ship programs for recent veterinary school graduates to better honed their skills to diagnose and treat animal and zoonotic diseases. The Congress also requested that governments at all levels create an enabling environment for the practice of the veterinary profession, especially young professionals, by offering financial aid in the form of grants and loans. Governments at all levels were urged to exigently hire veterinarians in areas with shortage of manpower within the animal health sub-sector and improve access to veterinary care for animals.
Private and government institutions urged to adopt technology.
Additionally, they urged that Lagos State and other states in the Federation provide available plots of land to house private veterinary facilities and clinics. This is to protect the general public from potential health problems that could arise from having practice centers in public places like supermarkets and shopping malls. Private and government institutions were called on to adopt cutting-edge technologies for livestock breeding and healthcare services delivery. Transboundary, emerging, and re-emerging zoonotic disease monitoring was another issue that the Congress urged the administration to keep an eye on.